The Ashes 2013: Keys to an Australian Upset at Old Trafford
Already down 2-0 and facing the prospect of an anticlimactic series defeat, Australia must find a way to halt England and win the third Test at Old Trafford.
That will certainly be no mean feat. England have enjoyed their recent trips to Manchester—winning six of their past seven Tests there—and the pitch is also likely to spin, favouring Graeme Swann and potentially nullifying the Australian quick bowlers.
Confidence will be at an all-time low in the visitors' camp, with six straight defeats and no Test win since January 2013.
While it won't be easy for Michael Clarke's side, here's a look at how Australia can defy the odds, get back in the series and go about upsetting England.
Use Warner to Unsettle England
Having been sidelined for punching Joe Root, David Warner has spent time with Australia A polishing his demeanor and rebuilding bridges with the national selectors.
After a score of 193 in South Africa, he's been called back up and will play a part in this third Test.
His batting will certainly bolster Australia's fragile top six, but his imposing personality could also play a significant part, if used in the correct way.
If Clarke situates him within earshot of England's batsmen, specifically Joe Root, he can appear quite an intimidating figure and could potentially upset a few opponents. There may also be lingering tension following his punch, and if Australia exploit that the right way, it can be used to their advantage.
Support Ryan Harris
Harris was one of Australia's better performers in the second Test, with seven wickets, including figures of 5-72 in the first innings.
As his Test career shows—54 wickets at an average of just 22—the quick bowler is a world-class performer whose reputation is only blunted due to his continuous trouble with injury. His individual record actually surpasses every other bowler in this series.
That patchy injury record generally restricts him to bowling short five-over bursts, and the issue at Lord's was that—while he was testing the batsmen at one end—James Pattinson or Ashton Agar were being dispatched for runs at the other.
Australia couldn't maintain the pressure he created, and England had a release. However, if Clarke's side can rally around Harris and back up that pressure at the other end, they will have far more success in the field.
See off Swann
Australia have entered this series with the curious mentality of hitting Graeme Swann out of the attack, which hasn't worked too well at all.
The off-spinner is the joint leading wicket taker in the series so far, with 13 wickets, and too many Australian batsmen have surrendered their wicket with wild shots.
With Swann set to bowl on another receptive pitch, Australia's top six must be more cautious and play with a Test match mentality at Old Trafford.
If Swann can be seen off, they should have far more opportunity to score against the seamers, who may find it difficult to dominate on the Manchester surface.
There's no doubt Michael Clarke and Darren Lehmann will have a tough job halting England's momentum, especially after the convincing nature of the win at Lord's.
However, if they adopt these methods and remember how close they were to winning the first Test, they might just be able to cause an upset at Old Trafford.
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